Matters Of Trust

Case Closed?

You might think that's the end of the story--employee caught, confessed, convicted. But for Lacey, whose embezzlement episode became known throughout the community, the saga was just beginning. There was still the matter of surviving the employee theft--both professionally and personally.

"It isn't so much the [money] she stole," says Lacey. "It's that she was able to [betray] all these employees who had worked incredibly long hours."

Would all their hard work not be enough to get the club through this crisis? Would Lacey himself lose faith in people in general--and those working for him, in particular? In a word, no.

"There are always more good people than bad," says Lacey. "People do care; they want to help. I am the most thankful guy on the planet."

Thankful because once word got out about what had happened, big-name comedians called to say they'd come in to do shows. Customers lined up outside the doors; they even offered to donate money and answer phones. And Lacey's other employees--stunned and upset by the embezzlement--asked their boss how they, too, could help.

"It was much like 'It's a Wonderful Life,' " recalls Lacey. "Every comic and all the variety acts were saying 'We're not going to let anything happen to the club. We're all coming down.' "

And they did. So what started as a cautionary tale evolved into, well, a story with more than a few Capra-esque elements. Lacey says now, "We're fine--and we're going to do great."

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This article was originally published in the March 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Matters Of Trust.

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